After eight years of fantasy football, the biggest change I have noticed in the NFL is at the running back. There are fewer true number one guys to pick from. We are in the era of platoons, the biggest key this year is trying to get a RB that will be on the field.
What else can he show us? 1200 yards his rookie season, followed by 2000 in year two, we are looking at potential Hall of Fame numbers. He is the clear number one coming into the draft, but considering he has carried the ball 609 times in his very short time in the NFL, I would grab the rookie that will back him up (once that is decided, they have a stable of 3 behind him) in the later rounds for insurance.
Last season we saw many teams decide that Peterson was not going to beat them. His numbers took a big hit from his 2008 total of 1760 yards. He is creeping toward my number one spot, with the retirement of Brett Favre he should see an increase in touches, but I still think Johnson will have the better fantasy season.
I have a feeling that Ray is in for his best year as a pro. The Ravens will up his workload from 250 carries to around 300, and Willis McGahee will steal fewer TDs. He has averaged 5 yards per carry in his first two years, and his receiving ability makes it very hard to set up a game plan to stop him.
Last year was MJDs first as the lone feature back in Jacksonville’s offense. Free of fragile Fred Taylor, MJD put up his finest fantasy season. He was feast or famine, high points of 177 yards and 3 TDs vs the Rams, low points of 34 yards 0 TD vs Seattle. This year I predict more stability, it is his nose for the endzone that makes him so potentially valuable.
5. ? Here is where we enter the winter of our discontent. 5-12 contains many solid running backs, but all with some things that make me a little uneasy making him my top RB. But with the way things look going into the season, at least these are all solid #1’s with minimal risk of having the backup steal carries and TDs.
Excluding his rookie season when he earned his job, Gore has had a very solid, but somewhat unspectacular run. Averaging 250 carries and a little over 1000 yards each of the last three seasons, there is little reason to think he will not do it again. However its the time in the draft to think about a game breaking QB or WR that will be more than a solid 10 in the bank every week.
The Steelers are looking to reestablish the run this season, and it is now time for third year back Mendenhall to step it up and prove he belongs in the league. With Big Ben out for the first 4 games he will have plenty of opportunities.
His 2009 season was cut short by a high ankle sprain, but he is once again ready to be the man in Atlanta. Durability is an obvious concern, but he has the job to himself. If he stays healthy its 1300 yards and 10 TD in the bank with potential for much more.
Now that the commish has declared no suspension for Benson, I can put him on my list. He appears in the top 10 because he will shoulder the majority of the Bengals rushing load this season and has little competition behind him to steal carries.
9. DeAngelo Williams, CAR
2009 – Rushing 1117 yards, 7 TD Receiving 252 yards 172 points
2010* – Rushing 1156 yards, 10 TD Receiving 286 yards, 1 TD 210 points
Had some injury problems last year that allowed Johnathan Stewart to shine, but he could well return to his 2008 top 10 fantasy status. Despite terrible QB play the panthers top backs racked up over 2200 yards last season, its all a question of how they will divide them up this year. This is the one RB competition I have my eye on, any kind of preseason setback could have DeAngelo tumbling out of my top 10.
Caught absolute fire the last half of 09, but he is falling because timeless Thomas Jones is having an excellent camp coming off his finest year as a pro.
His three years in the NFL have been very consistent, 1200 yards in each of the last two years, and he is on a stable team with a good young quarterback. Again I see good numbers coming out of Grant, but nothing to get excited about. He does have the backfield to himself, that’s more than you can say about most backs when you get down this far. He drops on my list due to a concussion suffered during the preseason, and they always have some lingering effects.
He will drive someone insane this year. With the sheer amount of platooning, SJ is up here only because there is no one else in the Rams backfield that can overtake him, and the dude put up some solid numbers despite being on a terrible team. Injuries are starting to pile up, but as long as the Rams improve at least a little SJ will have a solid year, but there will be headaches for whomever ends up with him on their roster.
With Mike Bell no longer in the picture, Thomas should improve upon his numbers from last year. He is the top back in the NFL’s most exciting offense, points will be put up. Durability is my main concern, he has yet to see all 16 games in a season in his career. If you grab Thomas in round one, make sure to grab his backup Lynell Hamilton in round 12+.
Matthews has moved up my board, but I still can’t justify taking a rookie as my RB1. The Chargers are implementing their own version of the Wildcat with Matthews as the “QB”, so its clear the Chargers believe in him, I just don’t quite yet.
I would be weary of selecting him as my top back, but if you can steal him as your RB2, then go for it. Everything I have read assured me that he will be featured and have an outstanding season. He does have 4 of 5 lineman back from last years team that allowed old man Thomas Jones to rush for 1400+.
With reports that Ronnie Brown may not be 100% going into the season, I see Ricky as the main man in Miami this year. Not expecting anything spectacular, but enough to make him a good pick for your second RB slot.
It will be interesting to see how the carries are divided between McCoy and Mike Bell, but with Bell’s history of injuries I see McCoy having the role to himself by mid season. On the plus side he catches a lot of balls, and the Eagles love to throw it to the back, I see a 1400 yard season split between rushing and receiving.
Looking to improve upon a respectable rookie season. Questions abound in Denver, they have too many quarterbacks, traded one of the best fantasy receivers in the league, which will result in teams stacking the box vs Moreno. he falls because of an injured hammy on day one of training camp, while he is expected back for game 2 of the preseason, it remains to be seen if he is fully recovered
19. Clinton Portis, WAS
2009 Rushing 494 yards, 1 TD Receiving 57 yards, 1 TD 65 points
2010* – Rushing 1065 yards, 7 TD Receiving 205 yards, 1 TD 175 points
How the mighty have fallen. Had his 2009 season cut short by injury, comes back with a new quarterback and coach. Looking at the Redskins RBs its a murders row of 2006 with Willie Parker and Larry Johnson joining him in the backfield. His is the youngest of the trio and his knowledge of the Shannahan system should give him the starters nod.
Screw Brandon Jacobs, he will get hut in the first game and Bradshaw will take over. I see him being middle of the road second fantasy starter by midseason.
A combination of now being in a Mike Martz offense, and the arrival of Chester Taylor, I don’t like Forte’s 2010 prospects.
Doesn’t matter which one you take, be assured the one you didn’t will be the one that gets the points. Not sure if I want either one of these guys as my 2, but would love to have either as a 3.
With Donald Brown stealing some of his already limited carries, Addai continues to slide out of the fantasy picture.
Proved last year to be better than Marshawn Lynch, so the Bills reward him by taking CJ Spiller in the first round of this years draft. Will have a couple of nice games, but with the backfield being that crowded, look for it to hurt his production.
I will continue to update this list as the season approaches.
*= 2010 projection from fftoday.com based on MFL scoring.